* SSEC -2.1%, CSI300 -2.7%, HSI -4.3%
* Hong Kong’s Hang Seng hits lowest level since July 2016
* Analysts slash China growth forecasts
SHANGHAI, March 19 (Reuters) - China and Hong Kong stocks fell sharply on Thursday, joining a global rout as emergency central bank measures in Europe, the United States and Australia failed to halt a fresh wave of panic selling.
** The Hang Seng index dropped 4.3% to 21,344.93, the lowest since July 2016, while the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 4.9% to 8,366.04.
** The CSI300 index fell 2.7% to 3,536.65 by the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 2.1% to 2,670.37.
** Nearly every stock market in Asia was down and circuit breakers were hit in Seoul, Jakarta and Manila. Traders reported huge strains in bond markets as distressed funds sold any liquid asset to cover losses in stocks and redemptions from investors.
** The sell-off followed a stabilisation attempt in morning trade, with a pledge by the European Central Bank to buy 750 billion euros ($820 billion) in bonds through 2020 offering some support.
** Stock value and fundamentals are ignored for now, as everyone wants cash as it’s almost at a level of crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak, said Linus Yip, a Hong Kong-based analyst with First Shanghai Securities.
** It’s really difficult to predict a bottom for Hong Kong equities, as the global liquidity risks need to be alleviated first before any confidence could be restored, he added.
** Analysts are slashing their growth forecasts for China to lows not seen since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, as the coronavirus outbreak takes its toll on the world’s second-largest economy.
** The central Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, reported no new infections for the first time, while imported cases surged by a record, led by new infections in the capital of Beijing. (Reporting by Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)